Tracks of the six typhoons that have caused at least $6 billion in damage (2022 USD) in Japan, as rated by EM-DAT, the international disaster database. #Nanmadol threatens to join this list. (Image credit: NOAA Historical Hurricanes Tracks tool) pic.twitter.com/MRSAcEGyHe
— Jeff Masters (@DrJeffMasters) September 17, 2022
Japan’s weather agency said the typhoon was carrying wind gusts of up to 168 mph near the remote Minami Daito island, southeast of Okinawa.
A Level 5 alert, the highest on Japan’s disaster warning scale, was issued to thousands of households Saturday, with Level 4 evacuation orders in place in cities such as Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Amakusa, according to national broadcaster NHK.
Ryuta Kurora, the head of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s forecast unit, told a news conference that “unprecedented” storms — including high waves, storm surges and record rainfall — could strike the region.
At 10 a.m. local time, the typhoon was about 30 miles south-southeast of Yakushima Island, Japan’s meteorological agency said. Authorities advised residents to “be extremely cautious of storms, high waves, and storm surges,” along with landslides and flooding. Waves of up to 14 meters (46 feet) are predicted for Sunday in some areas. Violent winds are predicted to continue into Monday in western Japan and “may collapse some houses” on Kyushu, the southwesternmost of Japan’s main islands, the agency warned. “Secure your own safety as soon as possible,” it said.
Japan is in typhoon season, which routinely brings more than a dozen storms a year. In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis produced a record deluge that caused deadly flooding and landslides in highly populated areas of northern Japan, killing more than 80 people.
That typhoon was especially deadly because the inner core of the typhoon, with its heaviest rains and highest winds, remained intact as it swept across Tokyo and dumped heavy rains across northeastern Japan, too.
Scientists say global warming is increasing the intensity of storms, bringing more frequent and severe weather events globally. Researchers are also starting to attribute the economic cost of weather events to climate change.
A study published in the journal Climatic Change this year said that of the approximately $15 billion in damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis in Japan in 2019, an estimated $4 billion can be attributed to global warming — including record rainfall. Other studies have used similar methods to calculate the costs linked to climate change of hurricanes in the North Atlantic.
The typhoon warnings in Japan come as a powerful ocean cyclone — the strongest storm in decades — is blasting the western coast of Alaska, bringing major flooding to coastal communities and wind gusts up to 90 mph. Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, a hurricane warning has been issued as Tropical Storm Fiona strengthens.
Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman contributed to this report.